So, I have further read my Florida Guide and things are looking somewhat glum for my Florida trip in November. The Panhandle is very different from the rest of the state, lacking many of the specialties that the area is known for (particularly in terms of waders). The time of year is also not the greatest as many species are withdrawing from the Panhandle farther south into the Peninsula. There'll be birds to see no doubt and I'm confident I'll get a few lifers but the peninsula sounds like the place to be. Way down the road (and when my bank balance in the appropriate range), a trip to the Everglades or the Dry Tortugas is a must.
So, I left off at King Rail in my last post (which when I look back through, I realize is very hopeful for many of the species). But a little work should garner success.
Roseate Spoonbill - O.K., so it's another species that is doubtful to be present in the Western Panhandle (listed as casual visitor) but this was one of my favourite birds growing up because it's just such a strange combination of beautiful colours with an almost grotesque head and bill. I was also frustrated to read that it breeds north on the Atlantic Coast to Merritt Island. How many birds could I have seen if I had tried harder as a kid!!
Anhinga - I have only seen one Anhinga (a female) on my first trip to Florida. I'd like to see another to study it in more detail (behaviour, plumage, etc.). However, chances are I won't get it on this trip: "rare in the Western Panhandle; most withdraw from the Panhandle during fall." Not exactly the most promising species and yet here it falls on my target list...
Northern Gannet, White Pelican, and Brown Pelican - I have all of these species on my life list but I have seen few of each (I have Brown Pelican from my first trip, White Pelicans at Hillman Marsh and Wheatley Harbour, and Northern Gannet in Florida and off the East Coast of Canada). All three are possible and I'd love to see any of them again.
Wild Turkey - the only Wild Turkeys I have seen are those that have recently been released in Essex County with small groups persisting within Point Pelee and surrounding area. These are still non-countable; however, the populations in Florida would be countable and I hope to see them while I'm there.
Waterfowl - Florida is a great place to see a wide variety of waterfowl species but I have to further study distribution and migration to know what birds will be around in early November.
Lastly, it's worth noting that some special rarities are possible and I probably shouldn't be setting myself up for disappointment just because the Panhandle isn't as renowned for birding as the peninsula half of the state. If nothing else, I'll have a great trip, see the ocean, be with my family, and enjoy the weather, Panama City, and the beaches. More updates to come!